The Car Book Blog: Comparing Warranties

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

With the release of the 39th edition of The Car Booknow available online—we’re sharing some of our best tips for car buying and maintaining your vehicle after you buy. The Car Book 2019 provides today’s car buyer with in-depth ratings of the 2019 vehicles, The Car Book’s unique crash test ratings, comparative complaint ratings, and all of the information needed to make a smart, safe and informed vehicle purchase. For online users only, the site also includes over 1,000 used car ratings going back five years.

In this edition of The Car Book Blog, we’ll give you key advice on how to buy for safety. If you’re more interested in the safety of yourself and your family than moon roofs or cupholders, this post is for you.

Comparing Warranties

Did you know that comparing warranties and repair costs before you buy a car can save you thousands of dollars down the road? 

There’s only one problem: most of us never read the warranty until it’s too late! In fact, because warranties are often difficult to read and understand, most of us don’t really know what our warranty does and doesn’t cover–just the way auto companies like it.

That’s why the Center for Auto Safety wants to help you get the most out of your warranty. We’ve broken down warranties into five critical items below. Check your coverage before you purchase–and get a good deal on your car for as long as drive it.

#1 Basic Warranty

  • Basic warranty covers most car parts against manufacturers’ defects.
  • Tires, batteries, and other items added to the car at the time of sale are covered under separate warranties. 
  • Most warranties describe their length of coverage in terms of months (example: 48) or miles (example: 50,000)–whichever comes first.
  • This warranty is the most important because it covers the items most likely to fail. 

#2 Power Train Warranty

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  • This warranty should cover the engine, transmission and drive train. For some luxury cars, it will also cover steering, suspension, and electrical systems.
  • Each manufacturer describes the Power Train differently–make sure to check with yours to see which systems are covered.
  • This warranty often lasts longer than Basic Warranty.

#3 Corrosion Warranty

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  • This warranty usually applies only to holes caused by rust. Most manufacturers won’t cover “cosmetic rust” or “bad paint.”

#4 Roadside Assistance

  • Some manufacturers offer a program for helping with breakdowns, lockouts, jump starts, flat tires, running out of gas, and towing, and some don’t. Check with your manufacturer to see whether or not you’re covered.

#5 Scheduled Maintenance

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  • Some manufacturers offer free scheduled maintenance and part replacement, but for others you’re on your own. A few manufacturers even offer to replace any part that needs to be changed due to wear!

#6 Secret Warranty

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  • Did you know that if dealers report a lot of complaints about a certain part or system and the manufacturer determines that the problem is due to faulty design or assembly, the manufacturer may permit dealers to repair the problem at no cost to the customer even if the warranty is expired? 
  • To see whether or not other customers are reporting similar repairs, visit and click on “Manufacturer Communications” or visit the Center’s Vehicle Safety Check. 

Finally, whatever else you do, don’t forget to…

#7 Keep A Record of Maintenance 

  • To keep your warranty in effect, you must operate and maintain your car according to the instructions in your owner’s manual. Make sure to keep a record of all maintenance performed!

If you haven’t already, be sure to join the Center for Auto Safety to get a full year’s access to Come back to The Car Book Blog soon for more insightful car buying information.

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